A brilliant account of the legendary American bohemians, hailed as “the best book ever written about this era, these people, and the ways they shook up our national culture for good” (Michael Kazin) In the early years of the twentieth century, an exuberant band of talented individualists living in a shabby neighborhood called Greenwich Village set out to change the world. Committed to free speech, free love, and politically engaged art, they swept away sexual prudery, stodgy bourgeois art, and political conservatism as they clamorously declared the birth of the new. Christine Stansell offers the first comprehensive history of this legendary period. She takes us deep into the downtown bohemia, which brought together creative dissenters from all walks of life: hoboes and Harvard men, society matrons and immigrant Jews, Wobblies and New Women, poets and anarchists. And she depicts their lyrical hopes for the century they felt they were sponsoring — a radiant vision of modernity, both egalitarian and artful, that flourished briefly, poignantly, until America entered the First World War and patriotism trumped self-expression.